Virgin signs up as ninth team for Formula E

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Virgin Racing has signed up with the new FIA Formula E Championship as the series’ ninth team. Alex Tai will operate the squad as team principal and the effort has the full support and backing of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.

Virgin has spent some of its large sum in motorsports before, as a partner in the Brawn GP team that won the 2009 Formula One World Championship with Jenson Button, and later as the principal backer for the team now known as Marussia.

But as Virgin has withdrawn from F1, its business goals match what FE is trying to achieve instead. Both Tai and Branson have worked to pioneer technology projects in aviation, space and more recently racing.

“The launch of the FIA Formula E Championship is exciting news for racing fans but also for those that believe in developing the great electric cars of the future,” Branson said in a release. “The need to create fast, dependable and durable race cars will help to accelerate the sector and showcase electric cars to a large global audience. With races around many famous city centers, I am expecting a lot of spectators, plenty of fun and some sparks flying as the competition hots up.”

Tai added that this is part of Virgin’s overarching strategy.

“The drive to develop new technology appeals to Virgin, which has always been a pioneering organization,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a number of such activities over years, from the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer to Virgin Galactic activities that push technological and human boundaries and capture people’s imagination.”

The rest of the grid includes IndyCar teams Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing, Asian efforts China Racing, Super Aguri and Mahindra Racing, and European squads Drayson Racing, e.dams and Audi Sport Abt.

Bryan Sellers aims to be first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Champion

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Bryan Sellers will leave the familiar confines of his Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and head into the unknown in 2019.

At the age of 36, Sellers has 25 years of competitive racing behind him and is turning his attention to the battery-powered Jaguar I-PACE sedan that he will driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – something he describes as “the way of the future.”

Racing for Ohio native Bobby Rahal, it is a connection that brings him home to his roots. Sellers was born in Centerville, Ohio. 

“I’m very proud to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” Sellers said in a press release. “I grew up in Ohio watching Bobby (Rahal) win races and build an incredible racing program and it will be nice to finally get to see it from the inside.”

Sellers’ electric-powered Jaguar won’t have the same horsepower as the V10 Lamborghini that he steered to victory in the 2018 IMSA Weather Tech Sports Car championship with co-driver Madison Snow and Katherine Legge.

At his heart, Sellers is a  racer chasing a championship and it’s not the horsepower but the potential for close competition that drives him. Next year, he has an opportunity to win the first ever Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship.

In 2016, Jaguar joined the Formula E series. Now they are looking to make history with the world’s first all-electric production-based international race series that will compete at 10 venues next year in support of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

The series’ 10 venues will be international, racing on tracks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, China, Italy, Mexico, France, Monaco, Germany and the USA, which will showcase electric cars on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, in July.

“Electric cars are clearly the way of the future and to be involved with the first electric production car racing series is very important to me,” Sellers said. “I’m very thankful to everyone at RLL and Jaguar for giving me this opportunity.”

Sellers raced fulltime in the American LeMans Series from 2005 through 2013 – amassing four victories and two other podium finishes. In 30 career races in the Grand-Am Series, he added three more visits to the podium.

But it was last year that was clearly the highlight for Sellers. For the second time in his career, he scored multiple wins in a series (Sellers had two wins in ALMS in 2011), but he stood on the podium eight times in addition to winning the championship.

Joining Sellers in the I-PACE eTROPHY Championship Jaguar next year will be Legge, who was one of his co-drivers in 2018.

“Experience, maturity and pace are very important qualities that I was looking for when we chose our driver lineup,” said Rahal, the former IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner.

The series will kickoff with the Formula E season-opener in Riyadh on December 15, 2018. They will not run in conjunction with the next two Formula E rounds and will rejoin for most of the remainder of the 2019 season.